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Senior Center lease approved, hospital site still on table

With little discussion, the Perham City Council unanimously approved a one-year extension of the Senior Center lease with owners of Ma's Little Red Barn.

But that doesn't mean the council is done considering moving the Senior Center to the former hospital site - an idea the council has been considering for the past month.

The new contract includes a month-to-month status, with an option on the side of the city to opt out of the lease agreement, with 90 days notice.

During a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting in February, council members discussed a deal that would move the Senior Center to the former hospital site - an option that provided the benefits of a director-like staff person and added activities, all for a price tag similar to the one the city pays today.

The city currently pays around $19,000 a year to run the Senior Center. That includes cost for rent and cost for a director, who works roughly 13 hours a week.

Carol Peters is the current director. She said she ultimately wants what's best for seniors. Based on what seniors are saying, they don't feel it's the hospital site.

Those who attend the Senior Center enjoy the location - they can park on the street and take a few steps to get into the building. They're also close to the post office and other downtown businesses.

Many seniors feel parking in the lot and walking into the new hospital site would be a problem.

The proposed location would also mean seniors would not have a kitchen. Food would be provided through Perham Living, as would all activities.

The site would be located across the courtyard from Perham Living's coffee shop. The space would provide three bathrooms and locate the seniors in the same building as the Boys and Girls Club of the Perham Area and M State's new business start-up center.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm said the renewal of the Senior Center's current lease does not relate to the possible move. That issue will be discussed separately at a COW meeting Wednesday, March 28 at 5:15 p.m.

Before that takes place, seniors will be provided transportation to the proposed location. The March 28 meeting is open to the public for comment.